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Chris Sayer’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 02 Jul 2014

Location: Toronto, Canada

MapI guess every country has its national day. Australia’s is every January 26th, while Canada’s is every July 1st. This meant that during our visit to Toronto, we were able to participate in Canada Day only two days after celebrating World Pride. A pretty wild coincidence. There were many events across the city, from concerts in parks to parades through the streets, and of course fireworks across the city to end the day. During the day we ventured down to a nearby park where a local rock radio station were staging rock bands all day. We listened to a very good Steely Dan cover band, followed by a Fleetwood Mac cover band, from a backstage vantage point courtesy of VIP passes through Dayna’s work.

In the few-hundred strong crowd were stalls selling typical Canadian fare: poutine, beavertails, barbeque spare ribs, and lemonade (made from real lemons). Poutine is French fries smothered in gravy and melted cheese. A beavertail is a flat sweet pastry with a coating of sugar and cinnamon (no beaver is involved at all). All of it delicious. Of course the crowd was a sea of red and white, created by hundreds of Canadian flags, t-shirts, sunhats, and anything thing else that could be worn or flown. We returned to Jill and Walter’s later in the afternoon for a leisurely barbeque on the deck, and at 10pm we walked down the road to watch the fireworks being fired from the same park where we were that afternoon. It was just as well that we could walk, because the whiskey had come out beforehand. All in the name of celebrating being Canadian.

It was interesting to witness the country’s attention to a couple of unlikely sporting compatriots abroad. While the soccer World Cup surged toward its finale in Brazil, the absence of Canada meant that only small pockets of interested immigrants gathered around televisions in bars and restaurants around the city. The most important sporting event for Canada was Wimbledon, where Eugenie Brouchard and Milos Raonic had made it to both the women’s and men’s semifinal. Quite a feat in the country’s sparse tennis history.

The following day was time to continue our journey, and Dayna joined us for a side trip to Montreal, New York City and Washington over a week. The short flight to Montreal left from Toronto’s city airport, only a few minutes’ walk from Dayna’s apartment. This small airport is situated on an island, and the only way to get to the airport is to catch a ferry, that takes you all of 50 meters from the mainland to reach the airport. It was quite strange, and supposedly the shortest ferry ride on the world. Flying out over the city gave a tremendous view of the Toronto waterfront, and flying into Montreal gave us an equally tremendous view, including the iconic Olympic Stadium from 1976, still standing high and proud.